Growing Up Sexually





Index Africa Botswana G/wi


Featured: G/wi, Hambukushu, Kgalagari, Nharo, Dobe Ju/’Hoansi, (Ba)Katla / (Ba)kgatla,; also®Subiya, ®Tswana, ®Atonga



G/wi girls are married at age 7-9, boys at about 14-15 (Silberbauer, 1963[1]; Singer, 1978:p126-7[2]; Campbell, 1967:p42[3]). Coitus does not begin until the girl is 11 or 12, when her breasts begin to develop, i.e., prior to menarche. Prior to this time, a husband may, although rarely so, be sexually active with an unattached older woman. The Bushchildren play house (Silberbauer, 1965:p79)[4], though no sexual implications are indicated. From age 5 or 6 on, the girl is exposed to the conversation of adult women during food gathering, which is “far from inhibited”. Girls marry at age 7 to 9, to boys aged seven years more (p81), and without much of a ceremony. “Sexual intercourse commences only after the first couple of years of marriage, when the girl’s breasts begin to develop”; if she is slow to mature, “her husband rather coyly admits his impatience” (p83). There is no special recognition of defloration.












Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1] Silberbauer, G. B. (1963) Marriage and the girl’s puberty ceremony of the G/wi Bushmen, Africa 33,1:12-23

[2] Singer, R. (1978) The biology of the San, in Tobias, Ph. V. & Biesele, M. (Eds.) The Bushmen: San Hunters and Herders of Southern Africa. Cape Town [etc.]: Human & Rousseau, p115-29

[3] Campbell, A. C. (1964) A few notes on the Gcwi Bushmen of the central Kalahari Desert Bechuanaland, NADA 9,1:39-47. Campbell notes that “puberty” in girls occurs at age 15 or 16, and that boys have intercourse “as soon as they reach the age of puberty” (ibid.).

[4] Silberbauer, G. B. (1965) Bushman Survey. Gaberones: Bechanaland Govt.